An industrial office parking lot is not where you’d expect to find a garden party, let alone one with so much meaning.
Patients and families affected by multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases gathered at the Fairview Achievement Center garden for an annual garden party. Attendees brought plants and flowers dedicated to the memory of those they’ve lost and planted them in the center’s garden.
“Sandy and I got a pink bleeding heart for our friend who just passed away,” says Andrea Crumly, a participant at the Achievement Center. “She’ll be buried in another state and many of us don’t have the transportation to go, so we get together and celebrate her here.”
With so many people at the party to honor loved ones lost to the same disease, instant community formed among strangers.
“There was a sense of oneness at the party,” says Andrea. “It was really spiritual.”
For chaplain Lisa Simonsen, the party—and the garden itself—reflects how the center cares for patients and how patients care for each other. Though the garden’s variety of plants may seem unplanned—nearly 50 were planted at this year’s party—it’s also part of the charm.
“It really isn’t like any other garden because it’s filled with what everyone wants to bring to honor their loved one,” says Lisa. “But that’s why it’s so special. Every plant has a story.”
For the Achievement Center, which helps patients affected by multiple sclerosis and other neurological diseases through outpatient rehabilitation services and a state-licensed day program, building the garden at the back of their building in an industrial office complex has distinct advantages.
“It’s kind of a weird place for a garden, but that’s what makes it great!” says Sandy Donnelly, an Achievement Center participant.
Being on the parking lot makes the garden wheelchair-accessible, a must for participants. Garden beds are elevated so participants can use adaptive garden tools to tend to the garden while in their chairs, allowing the garden to be used in a number of therapeutic ways.
“In the spring, we’re all excited to go out to the garden,” says Sandy. “We are very proud of this space.”
The Achievement Center is supported in part by grants and the generosity of Fairview Foundation donors. Special thanks to Westrock for their support of the Achievement Center garden. You can help to ensure that our garden continues to grow by making a gift today and designating your gift to the MS Achievement Center.